If your crested gecko is having trouble climbing, there could be various reasons. Some of these reasons are temporary and not very notable, while others may require medical attention. Here is a guide of possible explanations for your crested gecko’s reluctance to climb.
It’s normal for geckos to be less confident when shedding, which results in a temporary decrease in climbing ability. Nonetheless, long-term alterations in their ability to climb can be a sign of an underlying health issue or inadequate care. Crested geckos’ climbing ability is one of the factors that make them so appealing, so it’s crucial to address any changes in their climbing habits as soon as possible.
Before we delve into the possible explanations, it’s important to know how geckos stick to walls.
How do geckos stick to walls?
Geckos’ feet are specifically adapted to cling to various surfaces, even vertical ones. Their toes and tail have tiny scales or plates called lamellae, each of which is covered in millions of microscopic hair-like structures, or setae. Setae are unique because they’re extensions of the gecko’s skin, and they contain muscle cells that enable geckos to respond to different surfaces. The surface of each seta also creates a weak molecular bond with the surface they are walking on, which is referred to as Van der Waals force. This combined force is potent enough to keep them attached to smooth vertical surfaces.
Their exceptional ability to cling to surfaces has piqued the interest of NASA, who have been seeking to replicate it with man-made materials, but to no avail.
Possible explanations for your crested gecko having trouble climbing
There could be a handful of reasons why your crested gecko is having trouble climbing. Occasionally, the reason can be obvious, while at other times, you need to rule out various possibilities or seek veterinary assistance. Below are some possible explanations:
Not all crested geckos hatch with super adhesive feet. Some hatchlings might not be confident climbers right away, but they usually catch up within a few weeks. Young age may be a factor if your gecko is not yet fully adapted to climbing.
2. Limits on their abilities
Although geckos are experienced climbers, they can still struggle on smooth plastics, such as the sides of perspex tanks or whiteboards. The molecular forces that hold them in place don’t form as well with plastic surfaces.
Crested geckos need a relatively high humidity, typically ranging from 60-80%. They also require accessible drinking water, without which they can become dehydrated, leading to a decline in their physical ability to climb. Furthermore, geckos prefer to drink by licking water droplets from the side of tanks rather than drinking from a bowl. Dehydration not only affects their physical ability to climb but can also impact their desire to climb. A dehydrated gecko is unlikely to feel comfortable and may avoid climbing altogether.
4. Mineral deposits
Mineral deposits can accumulate on the walls of a glass tank, lessening the Van der Waals force and reducing crested geckos’ ability to stick. If you live in an area with hard water or use plain tap water to mist the tank, mineral deposits can occur. To address the issue, house your gecko in a temporary location, so the sides of the tank can be thoroughly scrubbed and the cleaning residue can be removed. In the future, use distilled water bought online or at pharmacies to mist the tank.
5. Too much condensation
When the walls of the tank are overly humid or inadequately ventilated, too much condensation can form on the glass, making it slippery and challenging for geckos to climb. Large droplets of condensation on the tank’s walls imply that the humidity is too high, which can also lead to problems with mold and fungus.
Juvenile crested geckos shed approximately once every two weeks, while mature geckos shed every one or two months to keep their skin healthy. When geckos are about to shed, fluid accumulates between their old and new skin, making it harder for them to grip surfaces because their feet are not properly attached to their old skin. If your gecko hasn’t shed in a while and is spending more time on the ground, it’s likely that they’re about to shed again.
7. Stuck shed on their feet
Dysecdysis, or incomplete shedding of old skin, can cause crested geckos to have difficulty climbing, especially if old skin is retained on their toes. Frequent misting during shedding can help to prevent this, and providing a damp flannel on which to walk can help exfoliate old skin from their lamellae. If these remedies don’t work, seek assistance from a veterinarian to remove the stuck old skin instead of trying to remove it yourself. Some gecko owners believe that geckos that experienced shedding problems when young are more likely to have long-term climbing problems as adults.
8. Nutritional deficiencies
An insufficiently balanced diet can result in crested ge
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